The invisible touch

The invisible touch – Boutique Hotel News

Service, and more specifically what constitutes good service in a hotel, is something of a moveable feast in these technology-centric times.

Granted, the days of starchy overbearing service with a squadron of snooty waiters hovering over diners’ shoulders are long gone in the vast variety of establishments, but does setting out to deliberately provide no direct interaction between guests and staff – as proposed by Philadelphia’s The Lokal – take things a step too far?

The hotel describes its offer as “invisible service” – and says it tries to reduce the barrier between a visitor and the real experience of a place. “The idea is to still provide all of those things guests want from a hotel without them feeling like they are leaving the neighbourhood and entering something artificial or apart,” it says.

In-room guide books will take the place of a concierge and there will be no front desk. From an operator’s perspective it clearly saves on staffing costs, but is this really hospitality? Is the hotel in danger of losing the art of service?

Personally I don’t like overattentive service when I stay at a hotel, but I do like to know that I can speak with someone if I have a problem or if I want a recommendation for somewhere to eat or have a night out. It’s telling that many of the leading serviced apartment operators are bringing in more services to their new aparthotel brands, while certain areas of the boutique hotel sector are moving in the opposite direction. Lokal’s guest feedback will be fascinating to monitor.

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